In the US this is Martian Luther King day. Aside from George Washington, King is the only American who has their own federal holiday. Though it's one of the less often mentioned ones, my favorite King quote is:
It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important.
In the end of course, the law didn't protect King, but I think he new that and persevered anyway. The Seattle Times also has a good guest column on King's life and work - with more words of wisdom from the man:
It was this co-existence of love and justice that led King to write his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" in 1963. To moderate white clergymen who pleaded for patience and a reduction in tension, King wrote: "[N]onviolent direct action seeks to create ... a crisis and foster such tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue."
King then drove home the point. "The Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom," he wrote, "is not the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers the negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice."
The third and final point is King's insistence that racial justice was inextricably linked to economic justice and international peace. "We are engaged in a social revolution," he proclaimed. "The evils of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism are all tied together, and you can't really get rid of one without getting rid of the others." That was why he condemned America's war in Vietnam, demanded "basic structural changes in the architecture of American society," and insisted that his dream of a just society required "a radical redistribution of economic and political power."
Thank you Reverend King.